"Damn it!" Edwyn saw a rare moment of non-composure from the sergeant, and as he watched her look over her meager column of men he saw something that might have been fear. Reyes was always coarse and irritable, but she never seemed like this, somehow off-balance. But almost as though she knew someone was watching her as closely as he was, she took a deep breath and leveled her voice to address the comms tech. "Is he fully aware of the situation here on the ground?"
"Yes, sergeant! I told him everything, but he wants this station taken." There was some bitterness in the tech's voice. This was news he took no pleasure in reporting. There was some grumbling among the column as they heard this, scattered jeers of the various derogatory names and remarks normally applied to Brady, most of which concerned his weight. Reyes turned on them, but her gaze didn't shut them up as it normally might have. Taking the station was a fool's endeavor, and they knew it. They didn't want to do it, and Edwyn didn't want to either, but he understood two very important things.
Firstly, he knew there weren't many other options. They couldn't wait for reinforcements since none were coming and since their position became more dangerous the longer they stayed put. They couldn't desert, because they had no means to leave the planet and even if they did, they would be blasted apart by their own fleet as soon as they broke orbit, seeing as the 121st had a zero-tolerance policy toward deserters. Secondly, he didn't think that Reyes would disobey an order. As good of a leader as she might have been, she liked structure, liked order. Maybe her sense of duty was misplaced, but if Brady wanted an assault, Edwyn assumed that Reyes would give him one.
"Alright, soldiers, break for five! Check your gear, and then double check it. We move as soon as we're ready." Almost too stunned to mount resistance, the soldiers grumbled again and the column dispersed. Edwyn stared incredulously at Reyes. Eventually, she caught his gaze and waved him over. "What's your problem, corporal?" She spoke lowly, an edge in her tone. Edwyn might have been intimidated, at one point, but having seen a few men die earlier that day had hardened him, at least for the moment.
"My problem is that you're sending us straight to hell, here, Sarge." He said, without much expression. A statement of fact. Reyes seemed blindsided by his frankness, at first, before anger twisted her expression.
"That sounds like sedition."
"Are you not afraid of dying?"
"Of course I'm afraid. But I'm a soldier, O'Byrne. I follow orders." Reyes narrowed her eyes. "I need you to keep doing the corporal thing, Felix went septic. Webley thinks he's dead within the hour." Edwyn blinked in surprise. Felix was a career merc who'd been bounced around between units and companies for various offenses, mostly relating to his tendency to drink heavily. He'd only been with the 121st for a couple of months, and he was a lazy, mean old bastard, but Edwyn had liked him. "You're taking an actual squad this time. That Jayser you found is with you." She trailed off, not wanting to say 'because no one else will take her.' Edwyn sighed, and nodded, the temporary spurt of defiance gone.
He went to go collect the members of his squad, and the first one he found was Kyra.
"You're with me, Sloane." He cleared his throat. "I, uh, asked to make sure Ushkov was put with someone else. You shouldn't have to worry about him." It was true, but he was sure that fact provided little comfort. Doubtless, a good chunk of the men shared his prejudices. Even if they didn't, if every single other squadmate was a forward-thinking egalitarian, they were still quite probably headed to their deaths. He realized, then, that as like as not they'd never have a real conversation, since one or both of them were liable to die within the next couple of hours. It was a sobering thought, and he wanted to talk, then. Ask her something about herself, so that he could connect her name in his head with something other than 'Jayser,' but he didn't. There wasn't time.